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Child Custody Access & Mediation Program

Location: South Tower, 1st Floor, Rm 1500

HOURS:  Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm

PHONE: 240-777-9089

Decisions about child custody and access are among the most important decisions a parent can make, and working through these issues within the court process often is difficult and stressful for parents. By using the mediation process to help resolve these issues, parents can create their own child custody and access plan on behalf of their children. They can begin a path toward managing disagreements through discussion while maintaining a more positive and emotionally responsible relationship with each other and with their children.

The Child Custody and Access Mediation Program offers parents involved in separation, divorce, and child custody cases an opportunity to discuss and resolve issues involving their children, such as primary residential care, decision making, and access. It is one of the core programs of the Court’s Family Division Services, aimed at resolving issues as early as possible, often without the need for trial.

The Court’s mediation program consists of a single three-hour session, held inside Family Division Services. This service is provided by a mediator trained according to Maryland Rules § 9-205 and § 17-205. It is free of charge. Immediately after the mediation session the parties report the outcome of the mediation to a family magistrate at a status hearing.

Download the Custody Mediation Brochure (PDF)

Parent holding child's hand

Visit the Understanding Child Custody & Visitation Cases page for more information about child custody, including forms, fees, and information about how children are represented.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Child Custody Access & Mediation

Parents who have filed cases in Montgomery County Circuit Court seeking decisions by the Court about child custody and access are eligible to have services ordered with the Child Custody and Access Mediation Program.

The primary goal of mediation is to help parents develop their own parenting plan to support their children’s best interests with little or no court intervention. Mediators strive to help parents discuss their individual perspectives in an informal setting. The mediator does not make decisions or recommend solutions to parents; instead the mediator uses questions, dialogue, and problem solving and listening skills to help parents create and consider their own solutions. When the parties reach an agreement, it will be drawn up in a consent custody/access order. Immediately after mediation the parties (and their counsel if both are represented), will report the results of the mediation to a Family Magistrate at the mediation status hearing, and the agreement will be put on the record.

Yes, with a few exceptions, mediation sessions are confidential. The mediator may not disclose to anyone statements made or decisions reached in the mediation. Additionally, the parents and mediator may not testify in any court proceeding about what was said or decided during the mediation.

Exceptions:
  • Maryland law requires the mediator to report statements made in the mediation that raise a suspicion of child abuse or child neglect.
  • The mediator may also report threats of violence made during the mediation process to the appropriate authorities.
  • Living arrangements (physical/residential custody)
  • Regular visitation/access arrangements
  • Holiday visitation/access arrangements
  • Vacation planning
  • Communication between parents
  • Communication with children
  • Transporting children
  • Emergency plans

The court may order the parties in a civil case, or a family case involving the division of marital property, to attend mediation. Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, or “ADR.” The court’s ADR program for civil cases and family cases involving the division of marital property, is different from the court’s Custody Mediation Program. The main difference is that the court’s ADR program is not free, and the litigants must compensate the mediator at the rate of $200/hour. However, the Custody Mediation Program is free of charge, as long as the parties have an open case and they qualify for the mediation session. The Custody Mediation Program gives the parties the opportunity to discuss and resolve issues involving their children, such as primary residential care, decision making, and visitation.

For more information on the Custody Mediation Program, please contact Family Division Services. For more information on the court’s ADR program, please contact the office of the Special Magistrate.

Each parent should be respectful of the other, listen, and acknowledge the other’s viewpoint. For example:

  • Be polite, just like you would be at work.
  • Stay on the subject. Focus on doing what is best for your child.
  • Control your emotions, just like you would do at work.
  • Be clear and specific when you talk to the other parent. Write things down and keep business-like records of important agreements.
 

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